Starbucks Chairman Interested in Cryptocurrency Market, Just Not Bitcoin

Howard Schultz, who recently revealed an ambitious 30,000 square-foot Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai in partnership with Alibaba, expressed his enthusiasm towards th


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Cryptocurrency For Retailers

In the next few years, Schultz stated that he believes several legitimate cryptocurrencies will emerge, endorsed and adopted by retailers. He said:

“I personally believe that there is going to be a one or a few legitimate trusted digital currencies off of the blockchain technology. And that legitimacy and trust in terms of its consumer application will have to be legitimized by a brand and a brick and mortar environment, where the consumer has trust and confidence in the company that is providing the transaction.”

Schultz emphasized that Starbucks is not interested in creating a cryptocurrency of its own, unlike several conglomerates in the technology and finance sector. Since the value of cryptocurrencies come from the decentralized nature and security value of public blockchains, the development of a company-specific cryptocurrency would be highly inefficient.

But, Schultz and Starbucks are awaiting for a cryptocurrency that large-scale retailers are willing to embrace as a payment method that is also easily accessible by the public.

Last week, $9 billion payments company Stripe reaffirmed its optimism towards cryptocurrencies launched on top of Ethereum that are optimized to handle payments for retailers, like OmiseGo. The Stripe team stated:

“OmiseGO is an ambitious and clever proposal; more broadly, Ethereum continues to spawn many high-potential projects. We may add support for Stellar (to which we provided seed funding) if substantive use continues to grow.”

Last year, OmiseGo secured a partnership with McDonald’s Thailand, to process payments for the McDonald’s online delivery platform. Although many cryptocurrencies in the market are being used for payments, Schultz reaffirmed that he does not see bitcoin becoming adopted as a currency in the future.

“Well, I think I have another question for you: Twenty or so years later, and the question is, the issue of do you understand and are you anticipating what could happen with cryptocurrencies? And the reason I mention this is not because I’m talking about Bitcoin, because I don’t believe that Bitcoin is going to be a currency today or in the future,” Schultz added.

Bitcoin Adoption in Japan

In Japan, bitcoin is already well-adopted by retailers. The country’s largest electronic retailer Bic Camera, leading budget airline Peach, and hotel chain Capsule have been accepting bitcoin since mid-2017, almost immediately after the Japanese government legalized and approved bitcoin as a currency.

Bitcoin is being used as a peer-to-peer currency in many regions outside of Japan as well. In South Korea and the Philippines, bitcoin is frequently utilized as a remittance method to send payments from one country to another.

Schultz declined to comment on his pessimistic stance towards bitcoin but based from his comments, it is likely that he is concerned with the congestion of the Bitcoin network and its fees, like Stripe and other companies in the traditional finance sector.

In the long-term, innovative scaling solutions could allow bitcoin to function as a stable and an efficient digital currency.

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